It was during the era of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. And Jesus.
But even at his most enthusiastic, he never wanted to become a pastor. Today, Don and his wife Jody have moved back to Pueblo, CO after pastoring Broadway Christian's sister church in Fowler, CO.
Don was brought up in Pueblo, CO while his wife, Jody, had moved here at nineteen from small-town Illinois, following a brother and an uncle. During his adult life, Don sweated by his brow at the Pueblo steel mill, earned a living as a firefighter and held a job as a city streets worker. he earned a degree at the University of Southern Colorado that would take the couple to Florida for a number of years. Don and Jody returned after the owner of a profitable upstart decided he wanted to try something else and "folded the company and left town," Sniff recalls.
He and Jody returned to Pueblo, where Sniff taught classes at Pueblo Community College and worked in the computer division at a large support company.
The Sniffs were faithful members of Broadway Christian Church, where Pastor Hal Hartman had been pastor for “what seemed like eons,” said Sniff, in the church Hartman had attended since he was five. While grudgingly accompanying a longtime friend to a pastor’s luncheon, Sniff had a conversation with a stranger that changed his life. The young man, who took Sniff, was studying to be a minister at the Sangre de Cristo Seminary in Westcliffe, CO. Sniff had never heard of it, and wouldn’t have asked another question if the young stranger hadn’t explained that the school’s emphasis was on Greek and Hebrew linguistics, in order that students could read ancient texts and discern the “correct” meanings for themselves.
“Having grown up Catholic, I never cracked a Bible,” Sniff said with a laugh. But after changing faiths, he had become an avid student of the good book and often pondered which version, if any of them, was closest to interpreting the messages intended by God and by the men who wrote the Scriptures. He immersed himself in his studies and in three years graduated with a divinity degree and continued working happily with computers.
He had been told all through his studies that he'd make a great pastor and answered each time by saying " I have no desire to be one." However, when an old friend of Hartman's called the pastor, asking for help replacing the departing Shepard at Fowler Christian Church in Fowler, CO., Hartman recommended Sniff without even asking him first.
Sniff recalled a conversation that he had with God after recovering in ICU from an off-roading accident, in August 1999, and the image he had in his head the night before as he drove home from work. "It was a country church on the plains of Southeastern Colorado, and I remember thinking how pleasant it sounded,” Sniff said.
He forgot about that passing image until Hartman’s call. Sniff said “I realized that God was finally telling me what he wanted me to do instead of the other way around, It’s a call you can’t turn down, There is no saying no.”
Don has been pastoring since 1999, and now his career is coming full circle. Hartman passed away in 2013. Although Don and Jody had been commuting to lead bible study since Hal's passing, a longtime member of the Church called Sniff nearly a year later and asked him to Pastor Broadway Christian Church and he has been leading the church since.
“And here I am,” Don said with a laugh, “Whaddya' know?”
Don Sniff distinctly remembers when he was “born again” into the Christian faith and left Catholicism behind with other relics of his youth in 1976.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.